Warm, windy weather has created a tricky snowpack, according to Senior Avalanche Forecaster for Avalanche Canada, Grant Helgeson.
Helgeson says that the snowpack is structurally weak in areas due to new, wet snow and strong to extreme winds, specifically in the Purcells.
“We’re expecting the weather to cool down this weekend,” said Helgeson. “We are seeing a natural avalanche cycle with the existing snowpack reacting to new snow. The new snow came in heavy with rain and winds from the south and southeast.”
Helgeson says that over the weekend the avalanche hazard rating will be considerable in the Purcells and the Lizard Range and Flathead regions, and human caused avalanches are likely.
As the Avalanche Canada website states, the warm, wet and windy storm is expected to form a touchy slab that rests on crust and surface hoar. There is potential for rain as high as 1600m and winds will quickly form potentially deep slabs.
“It’s a tricky weekend to manage terrain, there’s a weak layer that’s buried,” explained Helgeson. “Certainly get out there and enjoy some great skiing, enjoy the new snow, just have an objective layed out. Choose simple objectives without overhead hazard. This is certainly a weekend to be cautious; to be careful when inspecting terrain.”
Helgeson reminds those who are headed out to the back country this weekend, and at any time, to be prepared.
“It’s important to always make sure you get proper avalanche training,” explained Helgeson. “Bring your avalanche equipment including a probe, transceiver and shovel, and know how to use them. Check the latest forecast on our website [avalanche.ca] before you head out and know that the snowpack will adjust according to snow and wind [conditions].”
This Saturday, January 20, 2018, Kimberley Alpine Resort is hosting Avalanche Awareness Day. From 12p.m. to 3p.m. there will be an information booth set up, transceiver practice, a search and rescue demonstration and a dog demo, with prizes afterwards in the Stemwinder.
Avalanche Canada also offers various courses on avalanche training and safety, which are available at avalanche.ca>learn>courses.